A border patrol agent called a woman who impaled herself trying to cross into the United States "very foolish" in an official release from US Customs and Border Protection on Sunday.
The 26-year-old woman from Guatemala had been scaling the border fence near the San Ysidro Port of Entry with her two children, ages three and five, when she slipped and fell, landing on a piece of steel that stabbed her side and buttocks. Agents nearby say they contacted emergency services, who brought the woman to a hospital where she received care. She's since been released into Customs and Border Protection custody, according to HuffPost.
“Entering our country illegally, particularly over our walls is not only dangerous, but also very foolish," San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott said in the Sunday statement. "This woman placed her own life and her children’s lives in peril. She could have easily died if not for the quick response by our agents and EMS.”
The woman reportedly told authorities she wasn't part of the caravan of asylum seekers who approached the San Ysidro Port of Entry earlier this week, many of whom were teargassed by border patrol agents who have been escalating uses of force against migrants at the border.
On Sunday, agents launched the tear gas at a throng of incoming asylum seekers, which included many children. A viral photo showed a woman who's been identified as 39-year-old Maria Lila Meza Castro clutching her twin daughters in diapers as they run from a cloud of the chemical agent.
"I was scared. I wanted to cry. That’s when I grabbed my daughters and ran,” Meza later told the Washington Post. “I thought my kids were going to die with me because of the gas we inhaled.”
The Trump administration has, similar to Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott, suggested that whatever injuries migrants incur at the border is their own fault, the result of their attempts to enter the country "illegally," despite their international rights to present themselves at ports of entry as asylum seekers.
President Donald Trump said the tear gas was a matter of border patrol agents defending themselves against "rocks and stones" he claimed were hurled at them and resulted in injuries to three agents, despite Customs and Border Protection not reporting any "serious injuries" to any of its agents, according to Politico.
Trump also questioned why asylum seekers would flock to an area where tear gas was being deployed, and suggested some asylum seekers grabbed children who weren't their own because they thought it would help their case for asylum: "...They think they will have a certain status by having a child," Trump said.
On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warned asylum seekers with children that their attempts to "illegally enter our country" would "put [their] children in danger."
And on Tuesday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Trump, appeared on Fox & Friends to defend the president's agenda at the border, suggesting that migrants had been fairly warned about what would happen if they tried to cross into the US.
"Everything that was predicted by the president and Secretary Nielsen and homeland security and others has come true," Conway said. "There are violent elements in this caravan. The mainstream media only wants you to see the children, the families. ...There are peaceful and legal ways to come to this country and I would say to those women and their children that they should go ahead and look at those options."
With a spending deadline fast approaching, Trump continues to turn the caravan of asylum seekers into a specter that provides the justification for his much-promised border wall. On Monday, Trump threatened to "close the Border permanently if need be," calling on Congress to "fund the WALL!" He's hoping Congress will agree to fork over several billion to put toward the border wall in the coming weeks, in order to avoid a government shutdown—which would be the third of his presidency—on December 7.
While lawmakers in Washington negotiate over the president's demands to keep the government running, advocates for immigrant rights are keeping their eye on what's happening every day at the border.
"These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas," newly-elected California Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted on Sunday. "Women and children who left their lives behind —seeking peace and asylum—were met with violence and fear."
"That’s not my America," he continued. "We’re a land of refuge. Of hope. Of freedom. And we will not stand for this."